An Aviva campaign – starring former Formula One driver David Coulthard – which was designed to attract “safer drivers” has been forced off the road by the ad watchdog after it ruled it would actually encourage dangerous driving instead.
The ad, devised by Adam & Eve/DDB, opened with onscreen text that stated “Warning. Conducted under a controlled environment. Do not attempt to recreate” and “The Aviva Extreme Driving Experiment”.
This was followed by scenes showing Coulthard disguised as a taxi driver with passengers in the back seats, driving like a reckless mad man at excessive speeds whilst performing various stunts on public roads.
The voice-over at the end of the ad stated: “Paying for other peoples’ bad driving. There’s no excuse for that. At Aviva safer drivers could save an average of £170 on our car insurance. Download the Aviva Drive app to see if you could save”. At this point Coulthard revealed his identity to the passengers, who seemed overjoyed to see him.
But 58 viewers were not quite so chuffed and rifled off complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, arguing that the ad encouraged dangerous and irresponsible driving.
In response, Aviva said that while the full 60-second ad was no longer running, a variation of the ad was being shown, but with much of the extreme driving cut out.
The insurer also insisted that the ads were part of a broader campaign to make Britain’s roads safer, that the ad was promoting an app designed to reward responsible driving. The stunts were not intended to condone dangerous driving, it added, but to discourage it, presenting viewers with an exaggerated form of irresponsible driving.
However, the ASA ruled that the recklessness of the extreme driving scenes, including the female passenger saying “slow down” as the car reversed at an excessive speed before spinning round and narrowly avoiding other vehicles, “overshadowed the ‘warning’ and ‘experiment’ on-screen texts at the ad’s start”.
It added that “given it was performed in a regular vehicle and on public roads whilst showing other vehicles to be in motion” these “were scenes that could potentially be emulated by viewers, putting themselves and others at a significant risk of danger by driving hazardously and in an irresponsible manner”.
Banning the ad from appearing again in its current form, the ASA warned the firm about that its advertising must not encourage dangerous and irresponsible driving.
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